As warmer months are near, we all love spending more time outdoors with our beautiful pups. But something to be on the lookout for is Lyme disease in our puppies. Ticks that carry the harmful disease not only can hurt our furry friends, but Lyme Disease is also a threat to humans.
Being able to identify the symptoms in our dogs and have a doctor diagnose them as early as possible is key. More importantly, we go over prevention strategies so you and your pup can enjoy the warm weather and have a nice summer.
What Is Lyme’s Disease
Lyme Disease is an illness that occurs when borrelia bacteria find their way into the bloodstream of a human or animal. In almost all cases, it’s transferred from a tick bite that carries these specific bacteria.
While Lyme’s Disease is present throughout most of the United States, it is more prevalent in the Pacific Coast, Upper Midwest, and Northeastern parts of the country. They mostly hang out in tall grasses, woods, or mashes. They can only fly, so you don’t have to worry about ticks jumping or flying.
What makes it difficult for dogs is that ticks are easier to hide in their fur and can remain latched on for longer periods of time. It takes 24 to 48 hours for the tick to be latched on for the bacteria to enter the bloodstream.
When the bacteria seep into the bloodstream, it then travels to many parts of the body, including organs and joints. This causes overall illness and results in the symptoms we are about to discuss.
Symptoms to Be on the LookOut For
When a human gets Lyme Disease, it’s easy to speak to a doctor and get the right diagnosis. But for our pups that can’t communicate with us, we need to have an extra set of eyes for the following symptoms.
- Fever – To check for fever in pups and see if their ears or nose is warm. Check to see if their eyes are glossy or red. They may have shivers or a runny nose. Panting without exercise.
- A Loss of appetite. Dogs who seemingly are skipping meals or are not eating much are a symptom This is especially true if your dog normally gets excited around food.
- Showing signs of discomfort or pain. Unable or resisting exercise. Moving slower than normal.
- Swelling of the joints can be a bit harder to detect and will likely require a medical professional to diagnose this.
How Is It Diagnosed
The symptoms of Lyme Disease are serious for pups. But they also can be symptoms that fit a number of other issues. Having a veterinarian diagnose the disease is needed. Without diagnosis and treatment, symptoms can result in kidney failure or cardiac and neurological effects.
A veterinarian will look at the dog’s health charts, medical history, current physical symptoms, and perform a number of diagnostic tests before concluding that they have Lyme Disease.
Dogs will receive two blood tests in order to diagnose Lyme disease. One is called the C6 Test, and the other is called the Quant C6 test. Veterinarians must administer tHese.
The first test is the C6 test. It works to detect specific antibodies that work against the protein called C6. When a dog has the antibodies, it is usually an indication that the dog has Lyme Disease and is trying to fight it off.
These antibodies, however, will be detected somewhere between three and five weeks after the infection starts from the tick bite. Testing too early, unfortunately, may result in a negative. But sometimes, dogs do not show illness until weeks after.
Each situation is unique. Afterward, the veterinarian will administer the Quant C6 test. This test helps identify if antibody treatment is necessary.
Specialists at Bond Vet in Williamsburg note that you can always schedule a virtual appointment with a vet if you aren’t entirely sure about the symptoms your dog is experiencing.
Most of the time, the treatment is a 30-day supply of medication and antibiotics. If severe situations where the disease persists, a veterinarian may continue to prescribe an alternate medication. And there are therapies and alternatives to improve the current symptoms and condition of your pup.
Preventative treatment is the best kind of treatment for your dog. There are a number of things you can do to help your dog avoid getting Lyme Disease in the first place. Here are the best tips and practices.
- After bringing your dog outside, always check for ticks, even if you believe the area is tick free. To properly check for ticks, run your fingers through their fur to feel for any bumps. You can use a flashlight for dogs with darker fur. When it is warmer months, make sure to be diligent about this.
- Whenever you bring your dog in to see the vet ask them to do a thorough tick check. Veterinarians will have no issue doing this and may be able to look in spots you weren’t able to check.
- Ask your vet about products that work well as preventative measures. There are a number of gels, sprays, and mousses that are safe for dogs and keep ticks away and even kill them when they are exposed to the fur or skin.
- Keeping your pup up to date on their vaccinations is a great way for them to stay healthy. Without these vaccinations, the tick bite can do more damage if their immune system isn’t strong.
- Keeping your landscape well-maintained is key. Keep your lawn short and mowed. If there are weeds or woods nearby, try to keep your dog out of these areas.
Even with these best practices, ticks still manage to find their way to our doggies. Getting a tick off as soon as possible is the best way to handle the situation. Get a pair of tweezers and burn the tick after removal.
Support and Love For Your Pup
If your puppy does contract Lyme Disease, it is important to give them a lot of love and support. For instance, if you can tell that muscles are achy, bring food closer to them so they don’t have to walk far to get it.
Showing them positive emotions can also be very important for your dog. Dogs can sense fear. They are likely already feeling stressed, so adding to it can slow down their recovery. Just think, if you were sick, how would you want to be taken care of?
By Nicole McCray
Nicole is a die-hard animal lover who has worked in pet care for years. She is a former vet technician, a dog mom to her two rescue pups, and she grew up living and working at her family’s pet boarding facility. She loves using her writing talents to share the insight she’s learned throughout her career in the hopes that her knowledge can help other pet parents out there!